Iraq war and occupationThe request is part of a British attempt to win support for a pending US-spondored UN resolution calling for the UN to assume greater responsibility in Iraq. The resolution has little support in the UN mainly because the resolution mandates the UN taking greater responsibility, but transfers virtually none of the decision-making power away from the US. The possibility of the US abandoning the resolution is quite strong, though some administration sources say that a revised version of the resolution may be proposed in the next few days. (Washington Post)
US torture allegations"Iraq is free of rape rooms and torture chambers." At this time, reports of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers are already surfacing in the Pentagon. (White House/Slate)
Bush's foreign policiesObservers give the bill an excellent chance to pass both houses. Previously, the administration has held off on sanctions while it explored diplomatic options to pressure Syria into withdrawing its support of Hezbollah and other Islamic terrorist groups, but after the Israeli air strike on a terrorist base inside Syria, the administration reversed course and asked its allies in Congress to introduce the bill. (Guardian)
US torture allegationsAmong the alleged victims are two Australian citizens, David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib. Lawyer Richard Bourke makes the reports after two years of working on the cases of Camp X-Ray detainees. He and his colleagues have received ongoing reports of "horrendous abuse" from both Cuba and Afghanistan, where other prisoners are being held by US forces. Bourke is preparing to take a number of cases to the UN Standing Committee on Torture and other international courts. Bourke, who bases his allegations on leaked material from US troops stationed at the camps as well as prisoners, says, "They are torturing people on Guantanamo Bay. They are subjecting them to cruel and unnecessary treatment. And people sometimes argue about the definition of torture. What they're doing clearly comes within the definition of torture under the convention, under the international convention, but...they are engaging in acts which amount to torture in the medieval sense of the phrase. They are engaging in good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages. ...One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed. The reports about the number of suicide attempts and the level of mental health of the detainees is evidence of the treatment that they're receiving." Bourke says of the judicial process, "The US tactic is to have a series of show trials in which people admit their guilt and plead guilty to vindicate the US policy amongst those early prosecutions...." He concludes, "What we really require is other governments around the world to be willing to stand up and say, we think there's a problem here and we want it investigated. We want the UN to be investigating the reports of torture as they're empowered to do under the torture convention. There is enough evidence out there to justify them looking at what's occurring and they've certainly looked at other situations with far less evidence. What we need is a government to sponsor that type of action." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Iraq war and occupationGardiner is an expert on so-called "psyops," as he ran similar campaigns against foreign governments during his military career. "It was not just bad intelligence [the administration is providing to the American people]" Gardiner writes. "It was much more. It was an orchestrated effort. It began before the war, was a major effort during the war, and continues as post-conflict distortions." Such domestic psyops programs are specifically prohibited by the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, forbidding the government to disseminate propaganda to the US citizenry. In his fifty-page report, Gardiner outlines a $200 million psyops and public relations program to deceive the American people into believing that Iraq was a major threat to America's safety. "In the most basic sense, Washington and London did not trust the peoples of their democracies to come to right decisions," Gardiner writes. "Truth became a casualty. When truth is a casualty, democracy receives collateral damage."
Prewar intelligence on Iraqafter screening each document to ensure its relevance to the investigation. Critics maintain that the screening process gave the administration the opportunity to hide evidence. Constitutional lawyers admit that the screening is more or less within standard guidelines, but worry that the administration's penchant for secrecy will lead it to withhold critical documents. "Any processing of materials before they are delivered to the Justice Department is awkward at the least," says the head of the Federation of American Scientists' government secrecy project. "It's important at this point to establish the integrity of the process, and this process raises questions, at least from a distance. One has to wonder what might be withheld and why and who is supervising the vetting process." (AP/New York Times)
Plame outingDemocratic Senator Ted Kennedy says, "Asserting executive privilege would make a farce of the investigation. That's why we need a special prosecutor, so that we can challenge any coverup." Law professor Thomas Sargentich explains that executive privilege is designed to shield from public view some aspects of the internal decision-making process: "It's used to shroud advice that's sometimes inflammatory or has been rejected. ...Executive privilege is not supposed to be a shield in criminal investigations." Sargentich says that if the White House does assert a claim of executive privilege, it would be a strong sign that the investigation is heading to the highest levels of the Bush administration, given that the claim can only be used to shield the president's decision-making process. As White House officials attempt to meet the 5 p.m. deadline for turning over documents to the Justice Department, Bush seemingly tries to shift the blame for the leak onto the media, saying to reporters, "This is a town full of people who like to leak information. ...I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." (Boston Globe)
Plame outing"All the people who had innocent lunches with her overseas or went shopping or played tennis with her, I'm sure they are having heart attacks right now. I would be in hiding now if I were them." Ralph Wittenberg, a psychiatrist who chairs the nonprofit Family Mental Health Foundation, where Valerie Wilson is a board member, says, "I thought she was a risk assessment person for some international investment company." In recent years, she has been an "unstinting" volunteer, running peer support groups for women who suffered from postpartum depression, as she had. "she's affected hundreds and hundreds of people's lives. ...She's helped them. ...I would never have guessed in a million years" that she was a spy, Wittenberg says. Her parents did not know about her career as a CIA agent. Her mother says she and her husband, a World War II veteran, are "very angry" about the disclosure and fearful for their daughter's safety. "They spoiled it. They more than spoiled it -- they brought a lot of harm," her mother says, referring to the leakers and to Robert Novak, who blew Plame's cover in a July 14 column. "For people to come out and say this would cause no harm, what kind of IQs do they have?" Columnist Steve Gilliard says bluntly, "Novak is going to get people killed," and calls for Novak to be fired by his employer, the Chicago Sun-Times. (Washington Post, OpEd News)
Anti-terrorism and homeland securityThe loss of the missiles is the main reason why US authorities have not yet reopened Baghdad International Airport to commercial traffic, even though the airport has been fully rebuilt and Australian soldiers are running the air traffic control system. Iraqi civilians have turned over 317 missiles to American authorities so far, and more are being handed over every day. A number of missiles have been fired in recent weeks at military aircraft arriving at and departing from the airport, though most have missed their targets badly, suggesting that the missiles are being wielded by untrained users. US authorities are offering $500 for each missile returned, but the missiles, mostly Soviet-made SA-7s and American Stingers, can bring as much as $5,000 each on the black market. (New York Times)
Iraq war and occupationThe Turks are slated to be posted in western Iraq, far from the Iraqi Kurds, who hate and fear the Turkish incursion. The decision goes against the wishes of the Turkish people and the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, but comes due to pressure by the promise of $8.5 billion in loans and the threat of withheld economic aid and trade embargos on Turkish cotton exports. Many observers believe that the Turks have their own agenda in Iraq, which involves crushing the Iraqi Kurds and thereby weakening the position of the Kurds in Turkey. Additionally, the Turks may quietly establish ties with the remaining Ba'athists and other "rejectionists" currently resisting American rule in Iraq. Even the Iraqi Governing Council has protested the insertion of Turkish troops into Iraq; the US has ignored their complaints, but is pressing the council to accept the troops. David Phillips, a Middle East expert who works with the Council on Foreign Relations, observes, "I don't know how you split the difference on this. If the Governing Council doesn't want Turks to come in, regardless of where they are positioned geographically, and the coalition insists that they be deployed, how do you thread the needle? There's not a lot of room for compromise, and an issue like this runs the risk of pitting the Governing Council against the Coalition Provisional Authority, which is in nobody's interest." Phillips calls the history between Turkey and Iraq "sordid." Fawzi Shafi Ifan, the mayor of Falluja, says Turkish troops there would be seen as "a punishment" by the Americans. He said Turkey would "find an occasion to revive its old projects and interfere in Iraq's internal affairs." Iraqi Kurds are adamant that Turkish troops must not enter Iraq: "We just got rid of Saddam, must we now suffer from the Turks?" says a bazaar trader, while a cafe owner says, "We just want to be left alone and to run our affairs. The presence of Turkish troops, wherever they are, makes that much less probable. If they come here I will fight them, and so will we all." (CNN, Radio Free Europe, New York Post, Toronto Sun, Guardian)
Iraq war and occupationa program that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis still rely on to provide them with basic food necessities. Adminstrator Paul Bremer views it as "a dangerous socialist anachronism." Bremer plans to completely abolish it by January 2004, despite warnings from his own people that this could lead to hunger and riots. (Guardian)
Halliburtonsays Deborah Avant, a political scientist at George Washington University and an expert in the new breed of private military companies. She predicts the flow of money will dramatically increase if Congress authorizes Bush's request for $87 billion more funding. James Lyons, a former military subcontractor in Bosnia, observes, "All I can say is it's mind-boggling. ...People must be drooling." Avant calls it "the commercialization of foreign policy." Representative Henry Waxman says, "What we're seeing is waste and gold-plating that's enriching Halliburton and Bechtel while costing taxpayers billions of dollars and actually holding back the pace of reconstruction in Iraq." A spokesman for Iraq administrator Paul Bremer says that he believes market-based competition will ensure that no company engages in undue profiteering. (MSNBC)
Plame outingsays that the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson does not warrant an official investigation by his committee. Goss terms it an "inadvertent disclosure" and feels that the uproar over Plame's outing is largely fueled by what he terms "partisan politics." Instead, he says he will wait for more immediate evidence of willful disclosure: "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation. ...I am not going to suggest there be any kind of independent counsel until it even rises to the level of coming to our committee's attention, which it hasn't risen to yet." (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
Prewar intelligence on IraqIn a letter sent by Senators Tom Daschle, Joseph Biden, Carl Levin, and Charles Schumer, they said that the administration has made five critical mistakes already: "We are at risk of seeing this investigation so compromised that those responsible for this national security breach will never be identified and prosecuted," they wrote. Their first mistake is leaving Attorney General John Ashcroft in charge of the investigation instead of appointing a special prosecutor. The administration also failed to order employees to preserve evidence until three days after the Justice Department probe began; failed to deliver that order to the staff for another full day; waited yet another day to extend that order to the Pentagon and the State Department; and, by having press secretary Scott McClellan claim that three senior officials were not responsible for the leak, has "put the Justice Department in the position of having to determine not only what happened, but also whether to contradict the publicly stated position of the White House." (CNN)
Islamist terrorism"Al-Qaeda is commonly perceived to be a tight-knight terrorist organization led by bin Laden. Something that comes close to that description existed in Afghanistan between around 1997 and 2001. That entity no longer exists. What we have now is something far more diverse -- a whole series of groups, cells, and even individuals who are dissimilar in many ways, but are united by certain fundamental ideological ideas, and a particular way of viewing the world. Broadly, if you want or if you need an al-Qaeda as a label, then I think it should be applied to that broad movement, rather than one specific group. I think if you continue to conceive of the threat from militant Islam as coming from one specific group, then attempts to end that threat are likely to be misjudged as a result. And tactics based on this assumption could -- at the very best -- prolong the war against terror or a victorious war against terror, and at the worst could be counter-productive." Burke, who initially supported the war against Iraq on humanitarian grounds, believes that the US invasion of that country has had a powerful impact on US efforts to combat terrorism -- a negative impact. "The problem with the war in Iraq is that it provides very welcome material for those who argue that America and her allies are fundamentally opposed to any kind of unity and prosperity in the Islamic world. The Islamic militants see their struggle as a defensive one. They believe that they are resisting a tradition of belligerence and aggression by the West that goes back to the Crusades. Unfortunately, attacking -- however justifiably or not -- two Islamic nations in the space of two years, one of which is the cultural heart of many Islamic or many Muslims' and Arabs' cultural identity, that clearly is going to provide evidence for those who believe in that world view. The point here is that if you accept that bin Laden and his close aides are not solely responsible for global terrorism, and that far more profound and widespread factors are at work, involving ideology, world views, a way of seeing international relations, relations between the West and Islam, and so forth, then though you may have halted a potential threat [by toppling Saddam Hussein], you've created something that's far more dangerous by doing so."
Iraq war and occupationBush, speaking to reservists and National Guardsmen in New Hampshire, urges Americans to be optimistic and assures the country that efforts there are proceeding better than it appears. The same day, eight Iraqis are killed in a car bombing, an American soldier is shot to death, and a Spanish diplomat is assassinated in Baghdad. Bush's remarks are almost identical to the standard fundraising speech he routinely gives to Republican audiences. He also continues to insist that WMDs have been found in Iraq, and that Saddam Hussein posed an immediate threat to the safety of the United States. Michael Kinsley observes, "Bush doesn't really want people to get the news unfiltered. He wants people to get the news filtered by George W. Bush. Or, rather, he wants everyone to get the news filtered by the same people who apparently filter it for him. It's an interesting question how our president knows what he thinks he knows and why he thinks it is less distorted than what the rest of us know or think we know. Every president lives in a cocoon of advisers who filter reality for him, but it's stunning that this president actually seems to prefer getting his take on reality that way." (Washington Post, Washington Post)
Terrorism detainees and "enemy combatants"Instead, the worst charges he will likely face are dereliction of duty and disobeying a general order. Also, early reports that some sort of terrorist spy ring is operating out of the camp are also false. No explanation as to why such lurid charges were spread throughout the media has been offered. (New York Daily News)
George W. BushIn that speech, he makes a number of lies and misstatements. Once again he claims that evidence of biological weapons programs have been unearthed, even though the report from David Kay's teams a week ago prove that no such evidence exists. He tells the troops that they deserve "the best training, the best equipment, the best possible pay," while troops in Iraq are forced to scrounge for food and water and use captured weapons, all the while financially suffering from Bush cuts in basic combat allowances. He touts the economy as "exceeding expectations" and adding new jobs; the facts show that his administration has caused the loss of over 3 million jobs, the worst record since the Hoover administration. He claims to be determined to solve problems directly and not pass them to future generations; his administration is doing just that by gutting Social Security and running up the biggest deficit in American history.
Election fraudThe FBI indirectly admitted planting the bug when it announced that it was not planted as a part of any electoral espionage, but would not confirm how they have knowledge of it. The mayor, Democrat John Street, is involved in a close, bitterly contested election race with Republican Sam Katz. Although the FBI claims the bug may be part of some sort of "anti-corruption" investigation, Street is not so sure. "This is a huge matter of concern to me. You'd like to think you have a certain amount of privacy in your own office, and when you don't, you feel violated." The mayoral campaign has been marred from the outset by dirty tricks from both sides. (Washington Post)
Iraq war and occupationRumsfeld is apparently not a major player in the newly formed "Iraqi Stabilization Group" headed by Condoleezza Rice. When asked why Rumsfeld canceled the conference, a Pentagon official stated that Rumsfeld has "said everything he has to say about it." NATO officials confirm that the conference is cancelled because Rumsfeld doesn't want to answer questions on the subject, but an aide to Rumsfeld claims that it was due to a need to rework his schedule so that he could meet with foreign representatives. The World Policy Institute's William Hartung says of Rumsfeld: "He's a bit of a loose cannon and I think he believes he can get away with it because he's an elder statesman, he's been secretary of defence before, he's served in business, he's the oldest member of this administration, in the national security post, he says these things in this kind of jovial fashion. But in fact, if you listen to what he's saying, a lot of it is really over the line." Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, calls it a "gentle demotion. It would have been a much more severe demotion to have Powell given primary responsibility. ...What you're seeing is a correction, you're seeing Mr Rumsfeld's star dim but it's still one of the brightest stars in the sky, at least in the eyes of President Bush. ...He will continue to be probably the most important top American policymaker on Iraq even if now he's going to have to share his portfolio a bit more with other parts of the government." (CNN, BBC)
Religious conservativesThe State Department hotly protests Robertson's remarks, labeling the remarks "despicable." Robertson makes the remarks during an interview with Jeff Mowbray, author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America's Security. Robertson introduces Mowbray and says that anyone who reads his book would conclude that a nuclear explosion at the State Department was the best solution: "I read your book. When you get through, you say [to yourself]: 'If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom [the State Department's main building], I think that's the answer' and you say: 'We've got to blow that thing up.' I mean, is it as bad as you say?" Mowbray responded, "It is." Mowbray himself did not make the suggestion, either in his book or in the interview. (Reuters/Yahoo! News)
Prewar intelligence on Iraqtelling a Heritage Foundation audience, "He cultivated ties to terror, hosting the Abu Nidal organization, supporting terrorists, making payments to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. He also had an established relationship with al-Qaeda, providing training to al-Qaeda members in the areas of poisons, gases, making conventional bombs." Eight days later, he makes the same assertions. "Saddam Hussein had a lengthy history of reckless and sudden aggression," Cheney tells an audience at the James Baker Institute. "He cultivated ties to terror -- hosting the Abu Nidal organization, supporting terrorists, and making payments to the families of suicide bombers. He also had an established relationship with al-Qaeda -- providing training to al-Qaeda members in areas of poisons, gases and conventional bombs. He built, possessed, and used weapons of mass destruction." While Hussein did allow an aging and sick Abu Nidal, a terrorist scourge of the 1980s, to live in Baghdad after his "retirement," there has never been any evidence suggesting any complicity between the Abu Nidal organization and Hussein. And the assertions of connections between Hussein and al-Qaeda are entirely without basis. (Bush on Iraq)
Plame outing(Eckenrode has already gained Novak's cooperation.) The FBI confronts Rove with phone records showing that he had called Novak frequently in the days after the news of the leak investigation broke, but Rove denies that he had said anything untoward to Novak. Two weeks into the investigation, the FBI already knows the names of both of Novak's sources -- but proving criminal intent is another story. The FBI will have to prove that Armitage and Rove knowingly divulged classified information they had obtained from official sources, but neither Armitage nor Rove claim to be able to remember exactly where they learned about Plame. And Rove doesn't disclose his conversation with Time's Matthew Cooper. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Bush's foreign policiesThey include tightening an American travel embargo to the island, cracking down on illegal cash transfers, and a stronger PR media campaign aimed at Cubans dissatisfied with Castro's rule. Bush's announcement, given in a speech to members of the Cuban-American community, is widely seen as an attempt to shore up support in the Cuban voting population in Florida, a key voting bloc. Part of Bush's proposal is to order the Department of Homeland Security to increase inspections of travels and shipments to and from Cuba, ignoring the fact that DHS lacks the resources to inspect shipments coming into and out of the US, and can't afford to train and equip American police and firefighters. (BBC, Chicago Sun-Times)
Iraq war and occupationThe House Appropriations Committee easily passes the request on to the entire House of Representatives for final approval before being sent to the Senate. Representative Zach Wamp says of Bush's pressure, "My God, if [Bush's] eyes had been lasers, mine would have been burned out." Wamp, who authored the proposed amendment to convert some of the money into loans, told the committee, "We need to stand from time to time our ground," but quickly backed down and withdrew the amendment. Democrats used the vote to excoriate administration policy. David Obey denounced the "cadre of political scientists," naive "romantics" and "self-appointed geniuses" who sent US troops to war without enough body armor, canteens and portable jammers to defuse radio-controlled bombs, then came to Congress with a "lavish" reconstruction request that still short-changed the troops. John Murtha, usually a soft-spoken defense hawk, described officials at the White House Budget Office and secretary of defense's office as "sitting on their fat backsides" and making budget decisions that overruled requests from the military. The troops "are paying a heavy price for the mistakes made in this war," Murtha railed. "Meantime, the bureaucrats who made the mistakes aren't paying any price at all." (Washington Post)
Iraq war and occupationfew discussions surround the $9 billion "slush fund" available to the Defense Department and Donald Rumsfeld. The money is suspected to be allocated for Rumsfeld to "give" back to Congress for particular projects and fundings that will benefit particular members of that body. (Slate)
Plame outingNot only is Plame's elaborately constructed cover blown, but her cover corporation, a fictitious firm known as "Brewster-Jennings & Associates," was used by other agents who also may be compromised. Plame's career as a covert operative in the CIA's Directorate of Operations is finished. Those she dealt with overseas are in danger. Her exposure will make it harder for other CIA operatives to convince foreigners to cooperate with them. A former classmate of Plame's in the CIA case officer-training program, Larry Johnson, says that once the CIA's internal damage assessment is finished, "at the end of the day, [the damage] will be huge and some people potentially may have lost their lives." Johnson describes himself as "furious, absolutely furious" at the leak. Bush partisans downplay the leak's effect, claiming that Plame's real job was widely known in Washington, and besides, she no longer served as an operative for the CIA's covert arm, the DO, and had taken a desk job. Intelligence professionals, "infuriated over the breach and what they see as the Bush administration's misuse of intelligence on Iraq, vehemently disagree." Former CIA officer Jim Marcinkowski, who also trained with Plame, says, "This is not just another leak. This is an unprecedented exposing of an agent's identity." A CIA official also denies that Plame's status as a covert agent could have been common knowledge in Washington: "The background on an agent typically is not common knowledge. Whoever leaked (the information) probably wasn't supposed to have access to it." Marcinkowski goes on to say, as a CIA officer operating covertly in hostile countries, "There's only one entity in the world that can identify you. That's the US government. When the US government does it, that's it." (Knight-Ridder)
Plame outingMay is the only person outside of Plame's husband who has publicly admitted that he knew Plame was a CIA agent before Robert Novak outed her. On September 29, May told the media that he knew Plame was a CIA agent: "That wasn't news to me. I had been told that –- but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of." He told another media outlet the same day, "I knew this, and a lot of other people knew it," he said, implying that it wasn't only the one source who had informed him. Somebody else told it to me with a different spin. ...He said, 'Cliff, you've been too tough on Joe Wilson, accusing him of being a Bush basher and a leftwinger, because, you know, his wife works for the CIA. I mean, he's really not quite that bad.' So I think it may be something of an open secret." No one is asking exactly who May's sources were, or who these "insiders" are who held Plame's identity as "an open secret." And no one seems curious as to why May was given this information.
Iraq war and occupation"The White House seems paralyzed, unable to stanch the political, diplomatic and actual bleeding over Iraq. There are turf wars everywhere. The CIA is at war with the White House; the Pentagon is at war with the State Department and the National Security Council (NSC); some elements of the uniformed military are furious with the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, partly for launching the attack against Iraq in the first place without enough allied support. The fault lines are largely between moderate diplomatic and military traditionalists and more aggressive neoconservatives and nationalists."
Partisan Bush appointeesDeWitt is a Cincinnati investor and fundraiser for the Bush campaign with no intelligence experience whatsoever. However, DeWitt is a former owner of Spectrum 7, the company that bailed out Bush's former oil company Arbusto Oil in 1984. Eric Miller, senior defense investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, questions DeWitt's selection: "We're not sure qualities for appointment to the board include being a rich guy, financial supporter and close friend of the president. ...You need independence on this board. How can you be independent if you're one of the president's largest contributors?" Miller's group had earlier criticized the president's appointees to a new Homeland Security Advisory Council, saying it was loaded with administration-friendly industry officials who had no expertise in homeland security. Former board member Jeane Kirkpatrick, a former UN ambassador, says that the people she served with during the Ronald Reagan era were "the most intellectually impressive group of people I have ever served with in my life." Kirkpatrick served with intelligence experts, former congressmen, and ambassadors; Bush's group is primarily made up of industry officials and Republican donors. (Cincinnati Enquirer, Consortium News)
Bush familyThe documents also show the extensive actions taken by the Bush family and its corporate allies to keep those connections hidden. The documents, hidden for 60 years and unearthed with a flurry of FOIA requests, prove that Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush, was deeply involved in industries controlled by the German Nazis. Prescott Bush was proven to be director of a bank whose assets were seized in 1942 by the US government for its pattern of doing business with Third Reich elements. Bush's bank provided massive funds to Adolf Hitler's Nazi party and provided critical assistance to the party while it was coming to power. Bush and his partner, German industrialist Fritz Thyssen, long tried to hide their involvement with the Third Reich, but continued their dealings with Hitler well after the beginning of the war. Bush's associates include E. Roland Harriman, younger brother of W. Averell Harriman, and George Herbert Walker, George W. Bush's great-grandfather. The story of Prescott Bush's involvement with Nazi Germany has long circulated on the Internet, but has been denied by the Bush family and its friends and colleagues. The American media has all but ignored the story except to deny the existence of such proof. (New Hampshire Gazette, New Hampshire Gazette/Take Back the Media, Canada.com)
Conservative media slant"He thinks the country is disserved by the absence of truth in news, by the absence of honesty in public-official presentation, by the apparently infinite cynicism of those who currently hold high office," says former FCC chairman and close friend Reed Hundt. "These things disturb him, I know that. He's made these points to me. I think Al, and to my knowledge dozens of other progressives, would like to go beyond complaining to actually trying to fix the problems." Gore, like many center- and left-wing politicians and observers, believes that the current media structure is strongly slanted to favor the right wing of American politics and society, and in particular has overtly worked to assist the Bush administration and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California governorship. "Gore considers Fox News part of a "fifth column" within the media, responsible for injecting "daily Republican talking points into the definition of what's objective." One cable executive downplays Gore's chance of building a challenger to Fox News, Clear Channel, and other conservative-dominated news and talk networks: "Extremes are more interesting for neutrals to watch. Given who's involved in it, they're all way too classy" Comedian and left-wing pundit Al Franken disagrees, saying that the left is alienated and hungry for news, but not necessarily for a liberal version of Rush Limbaugh: "If they're driving around in their car, they're listening to NPR not because it's left-wing information, but because it's information. Conservatives want right-wing information; liberals want information. They need ammunition now, because they feel attacked. When I tell them about the liberal media network, they just cheer. Because they want to hear something."
Conservative media slantHe also says he is not at liberty to discuss the investigation into his link to an illegal prescription drug ring. He says he became addicted to the pain pills after spinal surgery "several years ago" and has twice tried to break the addiction by going through treatment. In the past, Limbaugh has been less than sympathetic to drug addicts: "We're going to let you destroy your life," he said to drug addicts in December 1993. "We're going to make it easy and then all of us who accept the responsibilities of life and don't destroy our lives on drugs, we'll pay for whatever messes you get into. ...[S]end the people who want to do drugs to London and Zurich, and let's be rid of them." In October 1995 he said, "...if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up. What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too." Limbaugh referred to musician Jerry Garcia shortly after his death as a "dead doper," unworthy of any other consideration. He also said that Senator Edward Kennedy's liver is "shaped like a Chivas Regal bottle."
Iraq war and occupationHe speaks to a closed-door audience of 200 supporters at the Heritage Foundation, a speech where his audience is not allowed to ask him questions or direct comments to him afterwards. Cheney brands critics as "naive and dangerous," and continues to tout Hussein's regime as having posed an imminent threat to the US and to the world, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Cheney also invokes the report by WMD investigator David Kay as proving that Iraq indeed did have those weapons, ignoring the central thrust of the report that no such evidence was found by Kay's investigators. He even resurrects the old accusation that Iraq possessed unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering WMDs to American targets, ignoring the fact that those UMVs were proven to be of the most primitive kind, unable to deliver anything anywhere. Cheney's speech is littered with accusations and statements that have long since been refuted. Conservative columnist Thomas Friedman writes about Cheney's speech, "Great. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein issue messages from their caves through Al Jazeera, and Mr. Cheney issues messages from his bunker through Fox [News]. America is pushing democracy in Iraq, but our own leaders won't hold a real town hall meeting or a regular press conference. Out of fairness, my newspaper feels obligated to run such stories. But I wish we had said to the V.P.: If you're going to give a major speech on Iraq to an audience limited to your own supporters and not allow any questions, that's not news -- that's an advertisement, and you should buy an ad on the Op-Ed page." (New York Times, New York Times, Progressive)
Middle East unrestIt may also ruin any chance of a prisoner swap between Israel and the Hezbollah terrorist organization. The negotiations, facilitated by Syrian President Bashir Assad, are on hold while diplomats formerly conducting those negotiations are now attempting to defuse a potentially violent situation between the two countries. The talks are further impeded by the Bush administration's refusal to become involved. Syria has since warned Israel not to stage another attack within Syrian soil. Syrian sources also state that Syrian-US relations are at the lowest point they have been at in years. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times)
Iraq war and occupation"It's more dangerous now than it was during the war. It's more directed at us now," says one British veteran. The Marines expect the situation to worsen as they begin interdicting oil and weapons smugglers while patrolling the Shatt al Arab waterway. (Plymouth Evening Herald)
Iraq war and occupationDuring his weekly radio address, he insists that "Iraq is making progress" no matter what the media may say. He claims this progress is due to his "clear strategy," though his critics challenge that claim. Bush blames the "filter" of the news media is blocking positive developments from reaching Americans, and plans on skirting the traditional media outlets as part of his new public-relations offensive. Bush paints a rosy picture of an Iraq where markets are bustling, shelves are full, oil is flowing and satellite dishes are sprouting up. "since the liberation of that country, thousands of new businesses have been launched," Bush says. "With our assistance, Iraqis are building the roads and ports and railways necessary for commerce." (AP/Lexington Herald-Leader)
Iraq war and occupationSecretary of State Colin Powell tells reporters that the war in Iraq "was fully justified." He says that the administration has had "no second thoughts" on the invasion and occupation. Powell joins Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and National Security Director Condoleezza Rice in giving speeches that put a positive spin on the Iraq occupation. Powell also stated the administration's position in an op-ed printed in the Washington Post. (CNN)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPThe letter, which promotes the US presence in Iraq and defends American actions in that country, was not written by any of the soldiers whose names were appended as signatories to the letter. The actual author of the letter is unclear, though it appears to have been written by an unidentified military public affairs officer and sent to the soldiers' hometown newspapers under their names. Six of the soldiers whose names appear on the letter have denied writing it, though all six agree with the content of the letter. One soldier whose name appeared on the letter says that though he agrees with the letter's content, he is uncomfortable that a letter with his signature did not contain his own words or spell out his own accomplishments. "It makes it look like you cheated on a test, and everybody got the same grade." A parent of another soldier says that the letter is an attempt to give legitimacy to a war she doesn't think was justified. "We're going to support our son, [but] there are a lot of Americans that are not in support of this war that would like to see them returned home, and think it's going to get worse." (Gannett/Olympian, Counterspin Central)
Iraq war and occupationThey blame infighting among high-level officials, particularly between Colin Powell's State Department and Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon. The committee members urge Bush to retake control. "The president has to be the president, over the vice president and over these secretaries," says chairman Richard Lugar, a Republican. Democrat Joseph Biden adds, "There's no clear articulation within this administration of what the goals, what the message is, what the plan is. You have this significant division within the administration between the Powells and the Rumsfelds." Neither senator voices approval of Vice President Cheney's recent speech defending the US presence in Iraq; Lugar calls it "strident" and Biden says Cheney's desire, shared by Rumsfeld, is "to undermine international institutions because they feel it's a drag on our capability." While Biden still believes that the US was right to get involved in Iraq, he says, "I just did not count on the fact that it would be handled with such a degree of incompetence subsequent to the quote military victory." Other Democrats added their voices to the criticism. Presidential candidate John Kerry says Bush and Cheney should apologize to Americans "for having misled America, for not having kept [their] promises of working adequately within the international community, not having built a legitimate international coalition, not having exhausted the process of the inspections. And, most importantly, not having gone to war as a matter of last resort, which is what he promised to America." Jay Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also accuses Bush of misleading the country about the war: "We did not go to war to bring democracy and prosperity and peace to Iraq. It was all about weapons of mass destruction and the imminent threat of America getting attacked. And what's ironic is that, in spite of the incredible job that our soldiers and Guard and the Reserve have done, we really are in more peril today than we were at the end of the formal part of the war." Bush insists that he is still in charge of his administration: "The person who is in charge is me." (CBS News, Reuters/Yahoo News)
Plame outingThe FBI has discovered evidence that for over a month preceding the Robert Novak column that outed Plame in July, government officials had been trying to convince journalists that Wilson's mission was not as important as it was being portrayed. It is believed that White House officials became aware of Plame's secret status from CIA agents working with the National Security Council. Robert Novak, the conservative journalist who exposed Plame, insists that his CIA contacts told him that Plame was a mere bureaucrat. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Plame is a "noc," an undercover officer with a non-official cover, or in other words, a spy. The NOC operates under deep cover, as a business executive, tourist, journalist, or, as Plame did, an energy consultant. If the NOC is exposed, he/she has no diplomatic protection. "It was the most dangerous assignment you could take. It takes a special sort of person," says a former colleague, Jim Marcinkowski. Another CIA officer calls the identity of an NOC "the holiest of holies." After her outing, her fellow agents and former colleagues were so outraged that Director George Tenet had little choice but to ask for an investigation. "In this particular case, it was so far over the line, I think myself and a lot of us were truly outraged that the government would do this," says Marcinkowski. "I mean, we kept our mouths closed since 1985, when we joined." The unidentified senior administration officials Novak had talked to had been busy that week in July, calling up half a dozen Washington journalists to give them the same tip, and potentially committing the same felony six times over. Joseph Wilson says, "My judgment of it when it first happened was that it was clearly designed to intimidate others from coming forward. The word was, if you decide to do what Wilson has done, then we will drag your wife into a public square and administer a beating." (Washington Post, Guardian)
Plame outing"First, if press reports are accurate, he has a grave national security problem. Someone in the White House has made public the identity of a woman who may have been a 'nonofficial cover' operative of the CIA, potentially causing multiple sources of intelligence to go cold. Second, he has a legal problem, for not only is a leak of this kind a breach of national security, it is also a grave criminal offense. Third, he has a political problem, as this story was brought to light by a senior administration official who apparently was so offended by efforts to discredit former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV that he or she exposed the White House's connection to the leak to The Post. Finally, given the failure of the White House so far to demonstrate any urgency in addressing this growing scandal, he faces a loss of public trust." He calls the handling of the leak "at best curious and at worst irresponsible." (Washington Post)
Iraq war and occupationThe US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council dismisses Sadr's ability to mobilize serious support for any opposition government, but Shi'ite political experts point to Sadr's announcement as evidence of a serious erosion of support for the US occupation among Shi'ites in Iraq. "To announce something is very easy but to make it a reality in life is very difficult," says one religious leader in Najaf. "I don't think this [government] will make a big problem. It's a way to make people pay attention to him and his group." Sadr is badly underestimated; by the end of the month, his forces have all but expelled the CPA-chosen government officials from the holy city of Karbala, and established their own government and legal courts (based on Islamic law, or sharia). Sadr's militia drills in plain view. Many in Karbala do not support the radical Shi'ite cleric, and tensions are high. While many in the CPA leadership, primarily Americans, are pushing for Sadr's immediate arrest, the Polish-led Multi-National Division, who would be tasked with the job of capturing Sadr and battling his militia, resists, fearing that it isn't capable of the job as well as keeping public order afterwards. British officials, too, resist the idea, feeling that Sadr can be dealt with on a less violent basis. (Chicago Tribune, Mark Etherington)
US veterans"The wounds we see here are much more severe than what I've seen at home," says Army sergeant Albert Gasbarra, working in Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad. Gasbarra says that, in his experience as a New York City paramedic, he never saw wounds like he sees every day in Iraq. "Here, it's not unusual to see multiple gunshot wounds. ...They [the Iraqi resistance fighters] seem to be getting meaner and meaner. At first it was gunshot wounds, then it was RPG's [rocket-propelled grenades] and now it's IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. These things can range in size from a Coke can to a medium size box and even a watermelon. To me, the wounds from these things closely resemble a shotgun wound. Happily, the majority of these guys recover, so I guess it's a debilitating weapon rather than a killing one. Although that's happened too, unfortunately." According to another medical officer, diseases run the gamut from pneumonia to appendicitis and viral illness. (New York Daily News)
Antiwar protests"The president of the United States has sent a message around the world -- be afraid." Goodall contrasts Bush's fear-based style of leadership with Winston Churchill's reassuring style when World War II terrorized her native England. She also calls the Bush administration's record on environmental issues "terrifying." She warns that reversals by his administration are rapidly undoing decades of progress. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
Iraq war and occupationThe funding package includes $40 million for Iraqi schoolchildren. Bush tried to take $172 million from Impact Aid and shortchange its funding by $583 million under the No Child Left Behind Act. The cutbacks would have directly affected children of troops currently deployed in Iraq, along with almost every other schoolchild in America. Bush apparently intends to accept the Congressional refusal to countenance the cuts rather than continue to insist on their passage. (Daily Misleader)
Media manipulation and marketing by GOPBush's interviews are part of the White House efforts to conduct a public relations blitz that will undercut the opposition to the war and the subsequent occupation. "If the people don't think I'm doing my job," Bush tells one interviewer, "they'll find somebody they think...can, that's my attitude. ...I fully recognize that, you know, not everyone agrees. Hopefully they agree I'm a person who knows how to lead." Democratic Representative Baron Hill responds, "While the battle to oust Saddam Hussein was well-planned and well-executed, the president did not plan well for winning the peace and rebuilding the nation. ...There has been little support from the international community; our troops have been taking almost all the risks, and American taxpayers have been paying all the bills." (Guardian, ABC)
Iraq war and occupation...Nowadays, at least in more civilized countries, we do not let armies rampage for booty. We leave the pillaging to men in suits, and we don't call it pillaging anymore. We call it economic development." (Amy and David Goodman)
Plame outing"It's the first time a president has possibly connived at what was essentially an act of treason. ...[N]o former administration betrayed national security and put the lives of American agents in danger for the sake of politics. Bush set the tone for his staff by keeping silent until the Justice Department began its investigation into the matter last month. ...Such a betrayal is no different from having wartime American public officials announce publicly the locations of American ships, planes or troops. This scandal is unique in that it is the first time that members of a presidential administration have sought political gain through an illegal breach of national security. ...These men [other presidents involved in scandals, from Andrew Jackson through Bill Clinton] cost the republic money, but they never risked shedding American blood. ...When campaigning for president, Bush promised to restore honor to the Oval Office. But by allowing members of his administration to pursue petty political ends while endangering the nation, he has sullied the presidency more than any of his predecessors." (History News Network)
Iraq war and occupationOver 30,000 troops will have to wait until December for the new body armor due to delays in funding, production, and shipping. The body armor was introduced four years ago. Congress approved $310 million in April to buy 300,000 more of the vests, with 30,000 destined for the troops in Iraq. Of that money, however, only about $75 million has reached the Army office responsible for overseeing the vests' manufacture and distribution, said spokesman David Nelson. Angry members of Congress have denounced the Pentagon. They say up to 44,000 troops -- more than the Pentagon figure -- lack the vests because of the sluggish supply chain. Relatives of some soldiers have resorted to buying body armor in the United States and shipping it to troops, congressional critics say. "I got a letter from a young soldier in Baghdad saying that the men in his group were concerned that they had cheap armor that was incapable of stopping bullets," says Democratic congressman Ted Strickland. "It's not a question of money, it's a question of capacity to manufacture these devices," the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Richard Myers, told a Senate committee last month. (AP/Information Clearinghouse)
US militaryA team of doctors is slated to study whether the stress of combat and long deployments is causing some of the deaths. "The number of suicides has caused the Army to be concerned," says Lt. Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, a psychiatrist at the Army's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. "Is there something different going on in Iraq that we really need to pay attention to?" In the past seven months, at least 11 soldiers and three Marines have committed suicide in Iraq, an annual rate of 17 per 100,000. The Navy also is investigating one possible suicide; about a dozen other Army deaths are under investigation and could include suicides. Those numbers are far above the norms documented by the military before the Iraq invasion. The Army has sent 478 soldiers home from Iraq for mental-health issues. Officials say that in previous wars, many of those cases would have been treated in the war zone. The Army doesn't have enough mental-health resources in Iraq to treat many of the cases. (USA Today)
Iraq war and occupationThe funding gap will be plugged by unspent cash from the United Nations oil for food program that ended in May, along with monies from frozen bank accounts and resources confiscated from members of Saddam Hussein's regime will also come into play. It expects to generate over $12 billion in oil sales during 2004. Iraq is still heavily dependent on foreign contributions to rebuild its ravaged infrastructure. (BBC)
Congressional DemocratsMeanwhile, Senate Democrats complain that the administration thwarted their own plans to visit the same country. "For whatever reason, Senators [Christopher] Dodd and others who requested the opportunity to travel were prohibited from doing so, and I think that requires a better explanation that the one I've been given so far," says Minority Leader Tom Daschle. "We have no understanding. We were told that an [Air Force] airplane was not available." Daschle adds that Britain offered the senators the use of an airplane, and notes, "If Britain can offer United States senators an airplane, you would think the United States government could do so as well." The Air Force maintains a fleet of aircraft specifically for the use of the President, White House officials, and Congressmen; the planes are available through White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Apparently the GOP senators had no problems getting the use of one of these aircraft. (The Hill)
Plame outingUnlike Novak and Libby, who claim not to know how they found out about Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as a secret CIA agent, Libby has a specific recollection -- and a lie. He claims to have learned about Plame's identity from NBC reporter Tim Russert, during a July 10, 2003 phone call. Libby leaves out a great deal of potentially criminal information, including his gathering of information on the Wilsons, his learning of Plame's identity from a classified State Department document, or his discussion with Dick Cheney where Cheney told him Plame worked in the Counterproliferation Department of the CIA. Instead, Libby claims that Russert told him "all the reporters knew" who Valerie Plame was. Libby says he was surprised to hear about Plame. Libby confirms that he also spoke with Time's Matthew Cooper on July 12, but again lies, saying that Cooper talked about how reporters were telling White House officials about Plame's identity. This will be the basis of Libby's defense -- he couldn't have disclosed classified information to reporters, because the reporters told him the information. He had only picked up unofficial gossip from Russert and passed it along to Cooper without vouching for the information. If true, Libby cannot be found in violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. And it keeps Cheney out of the spotlight. But Libby is relying on the silence of both Russert and Cooper. If either one talks, Libby is in trouble. (Michael Isikoff and David Corn)
Secrecy of Bush administrationFellow Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says "it's like pulling teeth to get answers" from Attorney General John Ashcroft about whether the Justice Department may be using the Act to justify wrongful handling of Americans detained simply on suspicion of terrorist connections. In June, an internal Justice Department investigation found "significant problems in the way detainees were handled." The suspects were confined as long as a month without being informed of any charges and then were held an average of 80 additional days while waiting to be formally cleared of suspicion. Ashcroft's first appearance before the House Judiciary Committee since the passage of the Patriot Act came two days after release of the internal investigation, but he refused to answer questions about it, claiming he "did not have time." (Daily Misleader)
Iraq war and occupationNethercutt makes his remarks as part of a speech he delivers to a University of Washington audience; the speech is part of the Bush administration's PR blitz to improve the perception of the Iraqi occupation among Americans. Like other Bush spokespersons, Nethercutt points out the restoration of electricity and the rebuilding of schools as positive steps taken since the invasion. Some observers are angered at Nethercutt's apparent dismissal of US casualties. Washington State Democrats blast their Republican colleague for his comments. Democratic state Chairman Paul Berendt says Nethercutt has turned into "an administration shill who insults the service of the men and women brave enough to serve their country. ...Yesterday, it was George Nethercutt's turn to sell the administration's failing Iraq policy. But as he tried to marginalize the loss of hundreds of U.S. soldiers, Nethercutt insulted the memory of those who have died." Nethercutt responds that his remarks had been "mischaracterized," and claims that his remarks were not part of the Bush administration's PR campaign to sell a positive image of the Iraqi occupation. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Times)
Iraq war and occupationThe Iraqi author, Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, supposedly told American troops where to find the captive Lynch; al-Rehaief then received the opportunity to apply for US citizenship. He also received a $300,000 bonus from conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his flagship book publisher, Harper Collins. He was also given a top job at Washington's Livingston Group lobbying firm. Hard to fathom why a formely nameless Iraqi would be treated so well by Washington's conservative elite. The book is being promoted by Livingston's Lauri Fitz-Pegao, who became known for her 1990 work with Hill & Knowlton coaching the Kuwaiti girl known as "Nayirah" who gave shocking, and phony, testimony to Congress that she'd seen Iraqi soldiers murdering Kuwaiti babies. That PR stunt helped propel the US to war against Iraq in 1991. Fitz-Pegado's client was the ruling family of Kuwait and the baby-killing claims were later shown to be false. al-Rehaief's book will beat Lynch's own book to the stands by a few weeks. (Public Relations Watch)
Conservative media slantSanders, who says the rumor is true, tells the press, "Rush was a charming man privately. I met him in a class I was taking, and got on a first name basis with him. I didn't realize he was gay until his sister came to visit him. She was gay, and like, we hit it off, and she seemed shocked that I didn't know Rush was gay as well. When I found out I was like ... wow!" Limbaugh's sister has openly acknoledged her homosexuality. Sanders says that privately, Limbaugh was a very sensitive and caring man, but that he was furiously angry that KFBK, the top 40 radio station he worked while still in high school would not offer him a full time job. "He was furious about that," says Sanders, "And he often told me that he was really going to show them." According to Sanders, Limbaugh's politics at the time were somewhat middle of the road. "Rush said that he though most people are incredibly gullible, and he felt that the key to radio programming was to reach that crowd, and that it would be really, really easy. He thought he thought he could get anyone to believe anything he said, and the more outrageous is was, the more they would believe it." When asked when he thought Limbaugh "went straight," Sanders replies, "What are you talking about? I mean, he's been married four times now, do people really not get why he doesn't stay married? I guarantee none of those marriages was ever consummated." Sanders refuses to divulge any further details, but when asked if he feared retaliation from Limbaugh for his revelations, he states, "No, Rush wouldn't do that, he's really a sweetie at heart, but some of the people who listen to him might. I think most of them are psychotic. I don't think these people realize he's just pandering to them for ratings, but if they find out, I wouldn't want to be there." No response is available from Limbaugh. The story is originally attributed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but that newspaper denies publishing it and no record of the article can be found in its Web archives. (IndyMedia)